OSAKA – A stoppage time goal from new-face Wilfried Zaha saved Manchester United from the brink of a humiliating third defeat in its preseason Asian tour Friday, drawing 2-2 with Cerezo Osaka at Shinji Kagawa’s former J. League home.
Kagawa, who moved to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund a year ago, also delighted a sell-out crowd of 44,856 at Nagai Stadium by scoring United’s first goal minutes after fluffing a penalty by kicking straight into the hands of Osaka goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon.
The Red Devils now have two wins and two defeats in Asia after losing to the Thai League All-Stars 1-0 two weeks ago in Bangkok, overwhelming the A-League All-Stars 5-1 in Sydney and again bowing 3-2 to the Yokohama F. Marinos on Tuesday.
“I’m happy,” new United manager David Moyes said after the match. “I thought our team did very well. I’m delighted with the way we scored the late goal.
“I thought it was our best performance since we’ve been on tour.”
Zaha’s late goal was the result of the English champions pulling out all the stops in sweltering evening weather in the final minutes as Adnan Januzaj dribbled toward the area and passed to Anderson on the left side.
The Brazilian midfielder crossed to the far side with Zaha beating Kim for the equalizer one minute into additional time, scoring his first-ever goal for United.
Ivory Coast-born Zaha, an Under-21 England midfielder, joined United from Crystal Palace in January.
“He’s been quite quiet at the moment, still getting to know everybody” said Moyes, who took over from long-reigning Alex Ferguson as United manager at the end of the last season.
“I think tonight will help him well because he showed the players that he can make things happen.”
Cerezo striker Kenyu Sugimoto opened the scoring on 34 minutes as he beat two defenders to slam a left-footer past Lindegaard after intercepting a pass by United’s Chris Smalling.
United nearly leveled in the 40th minute when Kagawa struck over after Dutch striker Robin van Persie fed him a sharp cross on a rebound from a Danny Welback shot off the left post.
Kagawa bungled a penalty shot in the 53rd minute when Ashley Young was clipped down in the box by Cerezo defender Tatsuya Yamashita.
But the 24-year-old Japanese quickly restored some pride by pulling one back for United two minutes later, slotting the ball through Kim’s legs after trapping a deep left cross from Ryan Giggs.
“I missed the spot shot and I put myself under tremendous pressure. I’m glad I managed to score,” said Kagawa, who left Osaka for Dortmund in mid-2010 and help the team’s back-to-back Bundesliga title wins.
Minutes after Kagawa was substituted amid roars from his former home supporters, Cerezo surprised the English champions with their second goal through 18-year-old striker Takumi Minamino on 63 minutes.
Minamino’s shot from the left, outside the area, sailed into the top far side corner. But Zaha managed to redeem the visitors with the last-gasp equalizer.
“We made a fatal mistake in the injury time as we lost concentration,” Cerezo’s Brazilian manager, Levir Culpi, said.”It was a match we could win.”
For the last match of their Asian tour the English champions will play Kitchee FC in Hong Kong on Monday and wind up their preseason campaign with a friendly against Swedish outfit AIK Fotboll in Stockholm on Aug. 6.
United will open its title defense against Swansea City away on Aug. 17.